San Francisco abounds with stylish outside drinking spaces, from rooftop bars with iconic views to elegant European-style establishments — a welcome addition to the city’s food and beverage scene brought about by the pandemic.
We asked FT readers to share their favourite spots — here’s what you told us:
Great wine and stunning views
If Ansel Adams were to photograph Napa Valley today, he may use Auberge du Soleil as his vantage point. [Just over] an hour from San Francisco and a few hundred metres up the hills on the west side of Napa Valley, its outdoor setting provides stunning views of one of the world’s truly great wine areas. During our three visits recently, we have enjoyed watching the vineyards go from winter greys to opulent greens. We anticipate seeing the vineyards in their full fall colours and the greening of the hills with the winter rains. Every season brings something special.
— Robert Powell, professor, Davis, California, US
A Spritz in the sun
Restaurants that did not originally have patios are now seating patrons in the streets. It’s great to see that they can be creative and stay open. That said, I prefer to pick up to-go Aperol spritz’s at Palmers, a happy hour mainstay on Fillmore St., and drink them at Alta Plaza Park a few blocks away, while looking out over the Bay and dog-watching.
— Jill Owen, leadership coach, San Francisco, California, US
A foodie haven downtown
When you think of downtown San Francisco, the first thought isn't charming — however, The Vault Garden, which was created amid the pandemic, has managed to provide locals and visitors with a foodie haven. Chef Robin Song's flavourfully executed menu pairs well with their exceptional cocktails and delectable wines. If you are seeking something off the sidewalk this could be a spot worth venturing over to!
If you happen to find yourself in the Marina District of San Francisco, look no further than the back patio of Cultivar, where you can cuddle up by the roaring fireplace and enjoy Cultivar's own delectable wines [grown and produced in Napa Valley], and tasty bites. I recommend the Cabernet Franc, hummus platter and cashews, which have a nice sriracha salt kick. Cultivar has also invested in a front parklet as well, which a great landing spot if you are seeking a sceney vibe.
— Alex Aitchison, business development, San Francisco, California, US
Memorable meals at Fort Mason
Greens Restaurant by [chef] Annie Somerville at the Fort Mason Center is by far the most memorable place. Walk through Fort Mason farmers’ market with an adoration of fresh produce, then follow with a late breakfast with a picturesque view of the landmark bridge. I [love] the simple and delicious meals with shared laughter and good company.
— Denise Hung, lifestyle writer, Melbourne, Australia
Martinis and more
Charmaine’s Rooftop Bar & Lounge is an exquisite place located in the East Cut, offering tantalising martinis while you gaze at the lush San Francisco skyline — I recommend visiting at night for the full experience. The fire pit at night was a great touch, both me and my wife loved it.
— Ewan Birnie, market analyst (FX), Los Angeles, California, US
Airy and elegant
While it’s not outdoors, The Palace Hotel’s Garden Court is an airy and elegant alternative to the sometimes foggy weather outside. In the adjacent Pied Piper bar, the signature Buona Vita cocktail will transport you to the Italian countryside in its summer splendour. It is comprised of Beefeater gin, elderflower cordial, Campari and freshly squeezed grapefruit juice.
— Mariann Montagne, financial services, Minneapolis, Minnesota, US
A bit of je ne sais quoi
Any one of the establishments in the Belden Place alley — very European and centred in the Financial District, near the French consulate.
— Lance Fahrenholz, bank regulator, Sacramento, California, US
Buzzy and fun
El Techo in the Mission is amazing; great crowd in afternoons with umbrellas for those needing shade and a DJ on weekends, and for Mexican tapas sharing plates to avoid death by margarita pitchers. If you make it to the late afternoon/early evening, you can also catch happy hour at the Lolinda bar when you descend from rooftop.
— Connie Guo, VP sales, San Francisco, California, US
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